passionate, self-absorbed, ambitious, frustrated, lonely, romantic, tragic heroine. An only child, she was born and bred on the island. She’s convinced of her own great destiny as an artist, and New York City becomes a lodestar in her mind, where she will fulfill her potential. But to pursue her dreams means to risk everything, so she clings onto the island, her safe haven, while she rails against it and her fate.
handsome, self-loathing, selfless, tragic. An only child. His parents had a summer house on the island, where he retreated when he was expelled from boarding school for cheating. He has lost his ambition in self-pity. He is tired of the small island but has “no where else to go”. He dreams of “leaving it all behind”, and at the same time, seeks stability, the home and the solid family life he lacks.
thoughtful, dutiful, reflective, idealistic, intellectual, emotionally stunted, weak, flawed. As a youth, he followed the road his parents laid for him, and spent idyllic childhood summers on the island. He is ever seeking to recreate them. His Wall Street experience hurt him deeply. While devoted to and protective of his mother and sister Tamsin, his marriage marks his first rebellion, and sets him up to betray them.
a classic, realist “good girl”, who wants to please to avoid conflict. A genteel nurturer, her heart and mind stay unified. She wants a traditional marriage. She cannot, at first, see beyond her expectations in a husband, but this changes in time, when tragedy releases her.
Mrs. Priscilla Goodrich
a proper, rational, willful, unromantic, “old-school” matron. She cannot see that her plans for her children do not fit them, and she cannot reconcile their personal and romantic choices, which to her are signs of surprising rebellion. But as their protective mother, she truly wants what she believes is the best for them, which for her class and generation, is a solid marriage with someone who is stable, and from a similar background.
A shy, quiet, somewhat mysterious observer who, as an Irishman, is a bit of an outcast on the island. Honest and ultimately well-meaning, he has access to secrets the others do not share. Although not an intellectual, he is an apt and intuitive reader of character, in humans and animals, and in nature. He fell in love at first sight, and is his love’s self-appointed protector.